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Prisoner's rights

Sexual Health

Sexual Consent

What is consent?

Consent is when you give permission for something to happen. Before having sex, all people involved must show or say that they give consent.

For example, if you consent to having sex if contraception is used (like a condom) but your sexual partner does not use the contraception, you did not consent to this act of sex.

The legal age of consent in New Zealand is 16 which means you can’t legally consent to sex unless you’re 16 or older. You also can’t legally consent to having sex while you’re impaired (like if you’re drunk or high, for example).

Sex without consent is rape. This is a serious crime. If this has happened to you, you should seek help. There are some free and trusted services you can call below.

Will the police get involved if I had sex and got pregnant before I was 16?

Crimes Act 1961, s 134

This depends on what happened exactly and the age of the other person involved.

If the other person was under 17 years of age, and you consented to having sex, the police might not think it’s in the best interests of either of you to charge them with an offence.

But, if they were 17 or older, they could be charged because it is a criminal offence to have sex with someone under 16 years of age, even if you said you consented. The police are more likely to get involved if there is a large age gap and they think you may have been pressured into having sex.

If you didn’t consent to having sex, the other person has committed a crime. If this has just happened to you, you should talk to someone you trust, or contact any of the following free support services:

  • Victim Support 0800 842 846
  • Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00
  • Youthline 0800 37 66 33

and your nearest Community Law Centre for legal advice.

Did this answer your question?

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide initial free legal advice and information.

Also available as a book

Pregnancy Rights

A basic, plain language guide that contains practical answers to questions about pregnancy and the law. It covers sex and consent, options after a positive pregnancy test, what help you can get with school, work, and parenting and more. Pregnancy Rights is written for young pregnant people, their whānau and advocates.

Buy Pregnancy Rights

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